Miguel Cabrera has now had two three-homer games in his career, and the Tigers have lost both of them. I really do think Tigers fans take Cabrera for granted. He deserves all the love ESPN was giving him about just how good he is. This is actually the first time I’ve seen several players from other teams rave about a player (in this case, Cabrera) all at the same time on Twitter, and it’s still going on as I type this, with some of the Tigers players joining in. And even in the one instance where the Rangers refused to let him beat them, it didn’t work out for them because Prince Fielder responded with a three-run double (hopefully that means he’s coming out of his slump). Basically, the good news to take away from this game is that Miguel Cabrera is awesome.
Unfortunately, it was all for naught.
Doug Fister wasn’t at his sharpest, but he did a pretty good job through the first four innings. However, things unraveled for him in the fifth. Geovany Soto (who the Tigers had a tough time getting out through the series, for some reason) led off with a double, and a Craig Gentry single put runners at first and third. One out later, Gentry stole second, which is unusual because Fister never gives up stolen bases. Elvis Andrus grounded out to short, scoring the run from third, but after that, it was like the Rangers wore down Fister very quickly. He walked David Murphy and then gave up an RBI single to Lance Berkman, and it just seemed like he was laboring with every pitch. And then he got unlucky. Adrian Beltre hit a pop-up double in precisely the spot that no one could get to, though it did glance off Jhonny Peralta’s glove. Nelson Cruz followed that up with an infield single (and lack of infield range really had nothing to do with that, because Peralta did get to it, but it was too deep in the hole for him to be able to do anything with it). That ended Fister’s night.
Darin Downs only faced one batter, got him out, and the Tigers took the lead in the top half of the sixth inning. They decided to bring Jose Ortega in for the bottom of the sixth, and this is where things fell apart again. He gave up a leadoff single to Soto, but then got the next two outs (though there was a stolen base mixed in) and looked like he might pitch around it, but then walked Elvis Andrus and gave up a three-run homer to David Murphy, who is always good for at least one home run in a series against the Tigers and I don’t believe he’d hit one yet in this series. After that, it was a parade of baserunners for Ortega, who ultimately allowed one more run before finally getting bailed out by Andy Dirks, who made a nice catch in deep center field for the third out, crashing into the wall in the process. I hate to say it, but that inning is pretty much what I saw from Ortega a lot over the past two years, both in Toledo and in winter ball. He throws hard but he hasn’t really been able to do anything with that. The fact that he’d been putting up zeros in Toledo was kind of mystifying to me. However, it seemed to me like his velocity was down. He’s normally around 97-98 MPH, but I don’t think I saw a pitch above 95 in this outing (granted, the gun in Texas has a reputation for being a little slow, but then again, so does the gun in Toledo). Phil Coke came on for the seventh inning and was more let down by the defense than by anything he did. Leonys Martin hit a double on a ball that Matt Tuiasosopo tried to dive for, couldn’t catch, and had to chase down. Leury Garcia tried to bunt, but Miguel Cabrera wasn’t covering third base when Coke tried to get the lead runner, and so everyone was safe (Now, I realize that Cabrera should have been covering the bag, but my question is why neither Coke nor Peña ever noticed that he wasn’t). Andrus hit a ground ball to shortstop that probably should have been a double play, but Peralta elected to simply get the out at first (I did see him look towards second, but for whatever reason, he decided not to throw there). David Murphy then hit a sacrifice fly and Tuiasosopo airmailed the cutoff man, which allowed Garcia to get the third, but an ensuing single by Berkman pretty much made that mental lapse moot, because Garcia probably would have scored from second on that single anyways. Evan Reed did calm the storm a little bit by pitching a scoreless 1.1 innings, but it was too little, too late. Reed was optioned to Toledo after the game and Luke Putkonen was called back up. Putkonen still kind of puzzles me, but given Dave Dombrowski’s overwhelming enthusiasm for him, this move isn’t all that surprising.
The Tigers are off tomorrow and then begin a two-game set in Cleveland. Max Scherzer takes on Corey Kluber.